Influence of Terminal Carboxyl Groups on the Structure and Reactivity of Functionalized m-Carboranethiolate Self-Assembled Monolayers

Goronzy D. P., Stanek J., Avery E., Guo H., Bastl Z., Dusek M., ...More

CHEMISTRY OF MATERIALS, vol.32, no.15, pp.6800-6809, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 15
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.0c02722
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica, Compendex, INSPEC
  • Page Numbers: pp.6800-6809
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The structure and function of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) at the nanoscale are determined by the steric and electronic effects of their building blocks. Carboranethiol molecules form pristine monolayers that provide tunable two-dimensional systems to probe lateral and interfacial interactions. Additional omega-functionality, such as carboxyl groups, can be introduced to change the properties of the exposed surfaces. Here, two geometrically similar isomeric m-carborane analogues of m-mercaptobenzoic acid, 1-COOH-7-SH-1,7-C2B10H10 and racem-1-COOH-9-SH-1,7-C2B10H10, are characterized and their SAMs on Au{111} are examined. The latter isomer belongs to the rare group of chiral cage molecules and becomes, to our knowledge, the first example assembled on Au{111}. Although different in symmetry, molecules of both isomers assemble into similar hexagonal surface patterns. The nearest-neighbor spacing of 8.4 +/- 0.4 angstrom is larger than that of non-carboxylated isomers, consistent with the increased steric demands of the carboxyl groups. Computational modeling reproduced this spacing and suggests a tilt relative to the surface normal. However, tilt domains are not observed experimentally, suggesting the presence of strong lateral interactions. Analyses of the influence of the functional groups through the pseudo-aromatic m-carborane skeleton showed that the thiol group attached to either carbon or boron atoms increases the carboxyl group acidity in solution. In contrast, the acidity of the exposed carboxyl group in the SAMs decreases upon surface attachment; computational analyses suggest that the driving force of this shift is the dielectric of the environment in the monolayer as a result of confined intermolecular interactions, proximity to the Au surface, and partial desolvation.